Our $40 Frugal Long Weekend

wpid-img_20150803_221011.jpgThis past weekend was a long weekend here and it was one of the best long weekend we’ve had in a long time and we didn’t even have to leave ”home”. Just coming back from vacation last week, this long weekend crept up on us. We had no time to plan ,and coming off a rather expensive family getaway, left us with little money to spend.

As much as I love vacation, I love getting home. Five days seems to be my limit before I start longing for my bed and most importantly, routine. We were gone for five days last week so staying home was exactly what I wanted. We’d normally capitalize on a weekend like this (with extra days off work and perfect weather) to go camping or plan some sort of getaway but even with camping the costs add up.

We have many financial goals right now, everything from the obvious (paying off debt), to funding our adults-only getaway next March with friends, we weren’t interested in wasting money on anything that wasn’t super important to us and so it was decided that we as a family would have a cheap, fun weekend at home and it was perfect.

Not having anything specific on the agenda for the weekend other than a family potluck Saturday afternoon, I called my sister to see how her very recent move went. On a whim, Maria and I went met with her and went for coffee after running to the grocery store for a missing potluck ingredient. Knowing we had to provide for the potluck, and keep things cheap, had me get creative. I ended up making something that only cost me an additional $4.99 over and above everything I had on hand and made one of the best things I’ve ever eaten so I was happy. Making enough for 25+ people can be expensive so I was happy with how well my dish turned out. We had a full day of good weather, coffee with my sister, family potluck, and for Maria- an epic water gun fight with her cousins. The whole day of fun only put us back $10 for missing ingredient, coffee for me and sprinkle donut for the kiddo.

Sunday was hot. We all woke up early and took cover in our much cooler basement. Sunday consisted of a lot of Lego building for Maria and Mike, watching afternoon baseball games, coffee visit with my in-laws, walk and park visit for Maria and I and us trying to get Maria to ride her free-to-us bike for the first time. It was great. We were getting really warm playing outside in the high afternoon sun so we ended up coming inside and at Maria’s request, watched Frozen. Feeling hot and lazy- and realizing we had very slim pickings for food since we hadn’t done a grocery shop since being home- we got pizza for supper and it was delicious. I was all too happy to spend $30 (hubby’s treat to us with his own side hustle $$), have food cooked and delivered to my house in less than 30 minutes, and almost no clean up. I didn’t have to turn my oven on or stand over a BBQ, loved it.

We’re lucky that we have family who has a nice large pool. With the heat continuing into Monday we took up their invitation of going over for a BBQ and swim. We had a ton of fun playing in their pool and having a great BBQ supper, it was the perfect way to cap off the end to our frugal long weekend. For less than $40 total we had a great family weekend which included a yummy treat pizza supper, and I couldn’t be happier!

What’s your favorite way to spend long weekends at home?

Forget Childcare Costs. Having a Career, AND Being a Mother is Important

ultrasoundIt sounds totally cliché. When my daughter was born, my life changed entirely. Yes, the obvious, like having a child to care for was new, but me as a woman, mother and career holder changed too. It wasn’t until I had my daughter that I really appreciated how much it meant to me to have a career that I enjoy.

When I was off with my new baby, that was my life. We were inseparable and I couldn’t imagine doing anything else in my life beyond 2am nursing sessions and wearing vomit covered clothes. By about six months I could see how getting out of the house and back into a professional atmosphere was appealing, and by nine months I was color coding the scrubs in my closet and crossing off the days before I returned to work.

I admire parents who choose to stay home with their kids, I really do. If I had to do it, I would, but for me I need the balance in my identification of being a woman, mother, wife and someone with a career. The downside to having two working parents though? The cost.

We looked into many options when it came time to choose a childcare arrangement for me returning to work. In the end we chose to have her in a home daycare. Her daycare cost is still the second largest monthly bill we pay, only falling behind to our mortgage. It’s a lot of money to pay each month but to me that money exceeds far beyond the parameters of ‘’just paying for childcare’’. Our daughter being in daycare is as important to her as it is to me.

Paying for our daughter to be in daycare means that I can satisfy the professional desire that I have. I have a career that I enjoy and which I studied hard for. Our daughter being in childcare is the only way this is possible. I’m paying someone to allow me to be a working professional and contribute to society in a way I simply can’t staying at home.

While I’m at work, my daughter is learning the art of interaction and sharing with other people her age, something I can’t easily give her staying at home with no other children and being a one car family. Getting out to social events for her while my husband is at work is simply not an option, and if I’m staying home, affording to have a car of my own is definitely out of the question.

I hear so many negative comments about the cost of childcare and how it suddenly doesn’t make sense to have two people earning an income because of the new added cost but we need to consider the other major advantages to having the ability to have someone take care of our children.

Depending on the career you hold, choosing to step away from your position long term to stay home with children may mean you lose out on opportunities for professional growth and advancement. While this isn’t the case for all careers (like mine in healthcare), leaving some positions could essentially terminate your career.

Holding a professional identity isn’t important to all women and that is completely fine. What bothers me is when women choose to let their careers go, when it is important to them, because they only think about the cost involved. Though at the end of the month you may ‘’just be breaking even’’ in terms of working with childcare vs staying home with no income, if it is a career you wish to have, then spending the money long term is worth it in many ways.

Did you decide to stay home, or return to work, after having kids? Was money the main reason?

A Few Of My Favorite Drugstore Beauty Products

Little known fact about me. As laid back as I am, I love beauty products (after all I admitted to having to give up my fancy salon cuts!). I love trying new products and experimenting, even if it’s just for fun or for one evening, I love playing with hair and makeup items. I experimented a lot more as a younger adult, but as a full grownup now (<<insert sobbing), I tend to stick with a few tried and true favorites.

Though I am often tempted by new products, I have learned in my 15+ years of doing hair and makeup that sticking to a few favorites usually works well. Also, it can get uber expensive to play dress up so the current budget doesn’t exactly allow it. When I see something I like I will often attempt to recreate it as cheap as possible, especially if it’s something I’m unsure I will like. Then, once I’m sure I like it I will sometimes invest in better quality.

Drugstores aren’t what they used to be. Hell, some drugstores are arguably small department stores. The brands, and quality of brands, they carry has changed drastically since I started buying beauty supplies some 15 years ago. Here are a few of my tried and true favorites:

Cetaphil Cleanser

cetaphil_cleanser_1l-800x800Cost: Large bottle $10.99

This was something my mom used to use daily. I don’t use it as a total facial cleanser, rather something to remove my makeup- all of it, mascara and all. It is non irritating and works great. Though I currently only use it as a makeup remover (following with a cleanser), during my pregnancy I used it exclusively as I did suffer from pregnancy related rosacea and it was the only thing that didn’t burn my skin.

Essie Gel Setter Top Coat Nailpolish

Essie Gel-Setter Top Coat

Essie Gel-Setter Top Coat

Cost: $8.99

This is a new product and I love it. I really love manicures and pedicures. Though I often skip mani’s given how hard I am on my hands at work, when the opportunity arises I love them. There’s just one thing, I’m a total cheapskate and can’t justify paying someone to paint my hands and feet when I’m more than capable. I love the look of gel nails but can’t come to terms with the cost involved. I decided to spend the $8.99 and try this for a DIY version and was pretty impressed. It really does give you a super hard and high gloss finish and leave your nails flawless for about seven days (much longer on toes). Given I expect this bottle to last a few years I’m happy with my purchase and think it’s a great compromise.

Blending Sponge

sponge

Cost: ?? $10

I don’t have a specific brand that I like I’ve purchased a few and been happy with all of them though I do prefer the tear drop shape ones. I’ve tried using brushes to apply liquid makeup and I don’t like it as much as a sponge. I’m not an overly fussy person (ie I don’t need special blending brushes for highlighting etc) and really like the idea of dampening the sponge (tip: quality makeup sponges should be saturated until almost twice original size then water squeezed out leaving slightly damp in state) applying a little foundation and be ready to move on. Two minutes, max.

Maybelline SuperStay 24 Hr Foundation

maybelline-superstay-24-hour-makeup-natural-tanCost: $9.99

I don’t wear a lot of makeup day-to-day but I do like a little foundation (using with my favorite sponge!). Given that I wear a mask all day at work covering most of my face, most of the foundations that I’ve used (high quality and cheap) eventually wear off from a combination of the mask rubbing on my face and humidity under the mask. Even when used with a setting spray (another experiment), they usually don’t last. I tried this foundation for the first time a few months ago (on sale for $7.99) and have been very happy with it. It does transfer a little (to the inside of my mask) but nothing like others I’ve used. For less than $10 it is one of the best I’ve used.

Got 2b Powder’ful Volumizing Styling Powder

got2bCost: $8.99

I love this stuff. I have a lot of hair but it’s very fine. Especially in the summer humidity my hair always goes flat. Humidity+heavy hair+liquid based hair products= eventual flat hair every single day. Not with this stuff! You don’t need a lot for it to be effective. It sort of makes your hair feel a little dirty(??- I can’t think of another word) but it works really well. (note: The box suggests putting on hands then rubbing into hair, I recommend lifting small sections of your hair and sprinkling a tiny bit instead, way easier. Reminder you only need a little bit!)

So there you have a it a few of my cheap favorites! I especially love getting them on sale- like when the hair stuff was on for $3.99 with a $2.00 coupon on the box! Makes it that much easier to enjoy!

Do you have any favorite drugstore beauty products?

What I Gave Up (and Gained) to Reach My Financial Goals

meal planner

The exact form I started meal planning with!

Rarely does someone embark on a financial goal and not have to make changes to their life. For us, part of what held us back for so long with working on paying our debt off, was that I was 1) overwhelmed with where to start and 2) wasn’t interested in changing our lifestyle. Though I didn’t have a great idea about how or where to start when it came to paying our debt off, I did know something would have to change and I was right.

It didn’t take me too long to look at what we were spending money on, to see where a few obvious changes needed to be made. Our situation was further complicated by the fact that our income was temporarily decreased. Not only were we focused on paying our debt off, I was also on maternity leave earning less than half my normal pay.

Though I was admittedly uncomfortable with some of these changes they were necessary. Not only for our financial goals but for us as a family, the changes were needed to refocus our entire lives.

What I gave up #1: Salon hair cuts and dye.

I hated everything about this but I couldn’t justify the $125+ every 6-8 weeks. I loved my hairdresser. I loved getting my hair done. It really was one of the only real luxuries I ever allowed myself but it had to stop.

What I gained from stopping my salon visits was a new appreciation for my natural hair. I loved dying my hair and had fun with it but honestly, as much as I enjoyed getting it done it’s nice to not think about having to get it done anymore. I found a lady instead who cuts hair out of her home (who also works full-time in a salon) and cuts for $15. Two years later and I’m still seeing her.

What I gave up #2: Unplanned food shopping

I was shocked to see how much the two of us were spending on groceries. Yes we had a kid but she was still exclusivity breastfeeding and not included in our food budget. We would go to the store whenever we wanted and throw in whatever we felt like. We were spending close to $800 per month for two adults and wasting a lot of food too.

What I gained from giving up unplanned food spending is a love affair with meal planning and trying new recipes. This has saved us so. much. money. The very thought about walking into a grocery store without a detailed list and weekly planning makes me panic. I won’t do it. I’ve gained a healthy relationship with grocery stores and spending on food. I’m a grocery shopping expert!

What I gave up #3: Cell Phone Data

At the time I was at home on maternity leave and I couldn’t justify the money we were spending on cell phone data plus internet. We cancelled the data off my old Blackberry and left me with a basic phone only. The difference was $50 per month. If I wanted internet stuff I would use one of our computers at home and still have my phone for actual emergencies and basic texting. I didn’t really miss it at all. (Note: I did re-add data when I returned to work and now spend most of my day away from home and no internet access at work).

What I gained was learning how to not be dependent on a device. I think we all know what I’m talking about- constantly playing on the phone looking at the same few apps over and over again. Without these things distracting me I had a lot more time, honestly! It was such a nice break.

When you make the decision to really work at reaching your financial goals assume changes will need to be made, don’t assume these changes will be bad though. When people think change they assume ”bad”, but I think ”uncomfortable” may be more appropriate. If you really want those changes to happen, getting uncomfortable is exactly what you need. Being comfortable is keeping you in a situation you want to get away from and change is always uncomfortable in the beginning. You’ll learn from it and be better for it though.

What changes did you make when working towards your goals?

Why We Need Three Years to Get Our House Ready For Sale

walkway gardenWe’re a few years away from selling our current home, it will happen, ideally in about three years. I’ve mentioned it many times but this house was always a starter home and even with paring our items down, we have far outgrown this home especially since adding Maria to our family. When we bought this house we did quite a bit of work to it: new siding, windows, driveway, kitchen, and paint. We’ve since added a wetbar  and done some minor cosmetic work outside but even with this work done, our home isn’t ready for sale and we need to start thinking about these things now, years in advance.

Prepping a house for sale requires a lot of work for most people and we’re not excluded. We quite literally have years of work to do to prep our house for sale if we want to get a the best price possible. Sure we could ignore these to-do list items and sell it as it is, but I know we won’t get top dollar. I’m not going to pretend to know everything about real estate or the complete list of in’s and out’s to selling a home, what I am though, is a very detailed and visually aware person and fully expect potential buyers to be too.

Here’s what I do know about most potential buyers and our house:

  • They’re not interested in doing a lot of work so we should take care of the list if we want to sell fast.
  • People hate painting and a fresh and modern neutral palette in a home goes a long way.
  • Old carpets are gross and everyone knows that.
  • We’re in a great school zone and close to a military base- two niche populations will search us out.
  • Backsplashes don’t have to be expensive to do but can blow a buyers mind- it’s like a diamond ring in a kitchen, we need to get this done.
  • They will notice the crazy dents in our hardwood (Birch was NOT made for flooring, not our selection but we need to fix it).
  • The lack of storage in our house is magnified but the volume of stuff we have- a lot of this needs to go into external storage (ie a family member’s home) before we list.
  • Doors do get noticed, we need to replace them.
  • I hate the light fixtures in our kitchen area and know other people will too.

I know without a doubt potential buyers will walk into our home as is and notice the things that are on our current to-do list and nit-pic about them come time to make an offer. I also know that things like fresh, color appropriate, paint go a long way when it comes to how ”nice” and ”clean” your house feels to potential buyers. For these reasons there is a list that needs to get done and we need to start acting soon.

The biggest reason we need to start acting soon is that we need time. While yes we could put everything off until the six months leading up to the listing, it would drive me crazy to have our lives upside down for six consecutive months. Things like replacing the flooring downstairs will require that we find time and help to relocated every item in our basement while the floor is ripped up and replaced. There’s a lot of stuff in our basement and a lot of stuff we use on a daily basis. I’d like time to plan this event like when to get time off work to figuring out where everything is going to go.

We also need money and quite a bit of it. I figure to get everything done in prep for sale, we need close to $5,000 to finish the projects. Given that we know we won’t be moving for three years, $5,000 is a do-able amount to spend on the home. With our debt decreasing, we’ll be able to afford to put more money into our home and prep it to sell. We’re opting to tacking one to two projects a year (ideally we start and do flooring next summer) and by the time all of our finances are in order our house will be market ready.

I admit to spending maybe too much time looking at real estate listing for potential homes even though we’re not actively looking. When I do come across a home that I like I note what it was that appealed to me and try to translate that in my home so when the time comes we can be ready to wow a buyer.

How much time did you need to sell your home? What do you look for when searching?

Do We Make Debt Repayment or Emergency Fund Top Up a Priority?

I’ve decided that I’m going to stop doing a monthly review of my debt repayment since, quite honestly, I feel they’re monotonous. Know that just because I stop writing about the same payments every month we are still working towards the goal. Instead I will update at important milestones like when we pay off our next loan, or may do a quarterly check-in instead.

These last two to three months seem to be one step forward and three steps back in every aspect of my life, debt repayment included. We’re still on track to have our next loan paid off in November but if we have another two months like we just did, it will be December or January so fingers crossed we have no more major unexpected, and expensive, events pop up.

I don’t know if it’s because I wrote it down, shared it with the world and made it a concrete goal, but paying off this loan by November, ideally my birthday (the 6th), is consuming me. I want this loan gone more than any other financial goal but I have to be honest in saying our ER fund has been hit, hard. So my heart and head are in different spots.

If I want this loan paid off by November I really do need to continue to throw as much money as we have towards it which means topping up our seriously depleted ER fund will have to wait for the most part. I can have the ER fund back to an acceptable level in 1-2 months but that means no real ”extra” debt payments.

Or I could put a sizable chunk of extra funds towards debt and slowly (like $100/month) build the ER fund back up at he same time….

Or I could live life on the edge with an ER fund sitting at a scarce $562.00 for four months, then beef it up big time when this next loan is done.

I really am torn about which route to go. In terms of replenishing the ER fund, my preference is to just replenish it in one to two months rather than slowly replenishing it but that also means either derailing payoff date or essentially living with no ER fund for upwards of four months (though I did go 28 years without any).

I also have to consider that though we may maintain a low ER fund (not saying I won’t pay it back first) I have to consider we will have additional funds coming in throughout these next four months intended for debt but that we could redirect in an emergency situation if needed.

With all this said I want your advice, do we keep on with debt repayment or build up ER fund again? What route?

What to Know about a Bad Credit Mortgage

As a rule, to buy a home you must have 20% down and a good credit history. But there is still good news for the bad credit “owners”: in fact, there is no need to have large down payment or perfect credit order to purchase a home. This article aims to explain the characteristics which mortgage lenders regard as a bad credit mortgage. Usually consumers and lenders precept the definition of a bad credit mortgage in a different way, this fact then leads to various misunderstandings.

Common Red Flags for Mortgages Lenders

Pattern of Delinquencies – it is a record of your late payments which is always possible to work around, but most lenders will give you much more scrutiny if such a record is not perfect; in the case of some problems with this paper you chances on getting not just bad credit mortgage but any second mortgages falls considerably.

Late Payments on Student Loans – in case you had any late payment on student loans within the past year, you are much more likely to be approved for conventional financing, something like FHA – governmental financing.

Late Payments on Mortgages – only one single late payment in the past year is permitted, but just in case you are able to explain it and provide your second mortgages lender with all the required documents.

Getting a Second Mortgage with Bad Credit

You should know about a thing called investor overlays. These are adjustments to guidelines or pricing which are created in favor of the lender. It is important to know because this is exactly that fact why one lender can provide you with second mortgages even with bad credit or minimal down payment, and another one cannot do the mortgage in some instances.

Later these are overlays which protect lenders against any potential future losses from the second mortgages they originate, conserving all the profit margins and buyback risks. In another way, it can shift the risk which is translated to cost – on to the consumer. This is done by limiting the ability to borrow via higher mortgage’s fee, it also reduces purchase price, or lowers debt ratio.

Note: Every bad credit mortgage lender has his or her investor overlays, it is the way how all mortgage companies operate, the crucial idea is to find and then work with that bad credit lender whose overlays are minimal.

Do Some Homework

  • Credit score. Before applying for any bad credit or second mortgage check your credit score. Get a copy of your annual credit report free, this information can help you when choosing the appropriate mortgages lender.
  • Documents. Get as many documents as you can to support your credit story and its challenges to be able to explain it to the lenders from A to Z if asked during the process of applying for second mortgages.
  • Specification. When you are talking to any potential mortgages lender, always try to be very specific. Do not be afraid to explain everything in great detail about your needs and concerns. Give the most complete description of your situation. Also before even explaining anything ask the lenders about any special conditions that they have for their bad credit mortgage customers in order to save your time and money from the very beginning.

Some data for the article was taken from the Knowledge Base of Mortgage Canada Wide Financial Company that provides second mortgages in Toronto and GTA.

I Didn’t Want It, Until Someone Else Mentioned It.

wpid-img_20141116_133130.jpg

One of my favorite pictures, ever, and taken on my cell phone.

I think most of us can relate:

Someone mentions something, or points out a potential problem that you were completely oblivious to prior to them saying anything and now the issue consumes your life.

For me, right now, it’s getting a new cell phone.

I am was, pretty happy with my phone (a Samsung S3) until about two weeks ago when my sister-in-law mentions that ”I’m probably due for an upgrade soon” as she currently was (we got our phones at almost the same time). My first reaction was that I wasn’t interested at all because I wasn’t having any problems…but I kept thinking about it…started researching…and now I want one.

It hadn’t even entered my head yet- getting a new phone. Sure I’ve had a few problems with my phone, but nothing like I’ve experienced with past phones where they’d get to the point I would even break contacts early to ensure I got a new phone that actually functioned half decently. Two years in and, for the most part, I’m pretty content with this little ”phone”. I love that it takes external memory so I can fill as many gigs as a want (mostly pics and videos of Maria), I love the quality of the pictures (I’ve had some printed from memory card and blown up), like the OS/app options and techy stuff and, overall, have few complaints (though the few I have had are biggies like the phone randomly turning itself off).

Funny thing though, now that it’s been pointed out to me that I am in fact due for an upgrade, it’s all I want right now. Knowing I am eligible for a new, better phone is intoxicating my thought process. To be perfectly honest, I’m suddenly less content with the device I currently have, all I see are its flaws and I totally recognize this.

It’s funny, I am so far from a techy/must have the newest whatever that it actually surprises me that I even care, but there’s something about capitalizing on this opportunity that makes my thoughts deluded.

Thankfully it’s ”just” a cell phone. There is a very high probability I will capitalize on said opportunity and go get the new phone. It doesn’t cost me anything other than resigning a contract and let’s be honest, I won’t not have a cell phone so signing the two year contract is really a non issue right?

What bothers me isn’t the phone, it’s the desire I have for this device.

My thoughts are sober enough to recognize fully that I am lusting after a piece of unnecessary equipment and I can’t help but think how drastic my change in feelings were. I went from not even thinking about it to wanting it because someone else said something to me.

People all over the world end up in terrible situations because they act on this feeling every day except it isn’t a free phone upgrade, it’s a $50,000 car they can’t afford, or whatever. Advertising is incredibly powerful, a true necessary evil in life.

Have you ever been in a similar situation of not wanting something until it was mentioned to you? What did you do?

We’re Paying off $100,000 Worth of Debt With the Help of My Freelance Writing Earnings (and how you can too!)

This post is a part of the Get Paid to Write for Blogs Course Launch! Get Paid to Write for Blogs is a brand new course created by Cat Alford of Budget Blonde. Cat makes a full-time income from writing for blogs, and this course will teach you how to do the same!

wpid-20140713_232643.jpgI’ve loved blogs since before I knew what a ”blog” was. It was actually my husband, Mike, who introduced them to me. He decided to start a hockey related blog in the early 2000’s and I have many vivid memories of him attempting to explain to me what he was doing on the internet. My love affair with blogs didn’t start until 2008, the year we were engaged.

It wasn’t the wedding that had me excitedly searching, it was the prospect of buying a home. Blogs consumed my life in planning our future home. I even started my own blog when we did, in fact, buy our first home in 2010. Though I loved reading blogs, I discovered that I didn’t get much satisfaction out of blogging myself until I started this one in 2012.

I was home all day on maternity leave, Mike and I were finally getting real about our financial situation (a baby has a way of forcing that sort of thing on you), and I was invigorated with these changes. I wanted to talk about the comparison of diaper pricing, coupon cutting, debt slaying and future plans with anyone who would listen. I LOVED talking about money. I also loved learning about personal finance. Between a combination of boredom (newborns sleep, a lot) and Mike’s honest frustration of hearing me talk about grocery sales every day, I decided to put my passion back into a blog as a way to release my energy, this, before I knew that personal finance blogging was a niche.

I didn’t read a single personal finance blog (that’s a lie, I knew about Gail Vaz-Oxlade’s site), until after I started this one. I was already on Twitter and from their ”recommended” following I came across what sounded like another site along the same lines as mine (it was See Debt Run) and thought ”Holy crap, more people who like to talk about money and debt as much as I do?!…” Little did I know, I had accidentally fallen into a massive blogging niche which has quite literally changed my life.

I knew people made money online (hello, I was obsessed with YHL) but I didn’t have a clue how. I really wanted to find another income stream to help my family while I was on maternity leave and more specifically, to help us pay our debt off. The first thing I noticed about the PF niche was how altruistic it was. Everyone was (is) so involved in helping everyone, it’s like a little family. I would ask questions, a lot of them, to anyone who would answer about how to make money. Everyone was very helpful and they all suggested starting with freelance writing.

There have been many people who have helped me succeed in earning money online, to which I am so, beyond, grateful for. I can honestly say, when it comes for freelance writing, Cat from Budget Blonde was is one of the key people in helping me pursue my gigs. I got my first gig December of 2012 and haven’t looked back.

I have been following Cat since the beginning, I mean way before she was the infamous Cat from Budget Blonde who gets published on little sites like Huffington Post. I was reading her blog back in her mostly DIY, newlywed days, but to be honest, had forgotten about her until I saw her comment on one of the other sites I was reading in 2012 and made the connection between ”old DIY Cat” and the now ”infamous PF freelancing Cat” we all know her as today. She’s amazing.

One of the first financial moves we made when we decided to get real about getting our finances in order was to consolidate a bunch of our ”random debt” (I may have put some tuition on credit cards…), the total of this debt was just shy of $25,000. In December of 2012 we made our first payment towards that loan, this loan in currently sitting at $5,000 and will be paid off in October, 18 months before it’s ”payoff date” mostly thanks to my freelance earnings. I started this blog with about $110,000 worth of non-mortgage debt, thanks to hard work and being able to make money online, our debt is sitting around $65,000 today with a goal to be eliminated in about 28 more months.

If you’re trying to reach a financial goal, or if you’re simply looking for an alternative income stream, I can’t recommend freelance writing enough. I can easily do it after my daughter is in bed or on weekends when I have a little more free time. As long as I have access to the internet it is something I can do anywhere in the world and you can too!

Get Paid to Write For Blogs is a comprehensive online course that teaches you everything you need to know about getting hired to write for blogs. With 29 videos within 8 modules, this course covers every single step to start a successful and lucrative writing career online. Use MY LINK to get 15% off your course!

How Patience Saves Me Money on Pet Care

The following is a guest post from fellow blogger Kendal Perez.
theboys

Photo taken by Kendal Perez

I’m the proud parent of two Labrador-Australian Shepherd mixes who, thankfully, are each in good health at age eight. My husband and I maintain their good health by feeding them quality food and keeping them up-to-date on vaccines and disease prevention.

I’m one of those annoying people who compares her dogs to children. Our DINK status means our smartphones aren’t filled with images of toothless, slobbering babies, but wide-greening, slobbering dogs. I’m in love with these animals and would do anything to help them maintain their health. That being said, I’m a firm believer in comparing costs and avoiding excessive fees whenever possible. Sometimes, that comes at the price of my time.

Recently, we took our dogs in for their annual vaccinations. While we had been taking them to Banfield, I opted this year to take them to Vetco to avoid office visit fees. With our two dogs, those fees typically added up to $60, so waiting in line to avoid that expense seemed worth it. And wait in line I did — we arrived a few minutes after 10:00am when the clinic opened (rookie mistake) and I stood behind two very-behaved huskies for over an hour. Since my dogs aren’t as well behaved in stressful situations with other animals, my husband kept them company under a shade tree in the back of our truck.

When it was finally our turn, I let the vet tech know that we didn’t need Bordatella vaccines for our dogs, to which she responded with a cheaper package than the one I’d been planning to purchase. Another $20 saved there.

The procedure itself took about five minutes and about a pound of dog hair nervously shed by the boys. I was offered brand-name heartworm treatment for $53 for six tablets or $100 for 12 tablets, but again I decided to spend more time comparing prices and finding the best deal.

After receiving results from the lab tests, I looked at prices from several different pet med providers but it was ultimately my husband who found the best offer. The generic heartworm meds we’d been using for our dogs cost $29 for six tablets or $55 for 12 tablets. I grabbed a coupon code from CouponSherpa.com to save an additional $5 and ultimately paid less than $50 for 12 pills.

Taking the time to research your options and make informed decisions is hardly groundbreaking, but in our fast-paced, want-it-now society, the strategy is often overlooked. It can be (and should be) applied to a number of situations, whether it’s waiting until sale time to pick up a new appliance, holding off on a car purchase until you can pay for it with cash, or simply trading your Sunday morning plans to save a few bucks on pet care.

Has patience ever saved you money?


Kendal Perez is a spokesperson for Coupon Sherpa, the premier source of online, in-store and mobile coupons. She also blogs about her money-saving successes and failures over at Hassle-Free Savings and enjoys yoga, decluttering, IPA and obsessing over her dogs.